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Pompeo Calls Israeli-Palestinian Peace ‘Incredible Priority’ for US

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that providing whatever assistance is necessary to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace is an "incredible priority" for the United States, and he urged the Palestinians to "return to that political dialogue."

"We will continue to work for peace in the great hope of offering the best outcome for both the Israeli and Palestinian people," Pompeo said alongside Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman.

Pompeo said it is up to the two parties to ultimately decide on what the right resolution is, and that the United States is open to the "likely outcome" of a two-state solution.

Safadi called resolving the longstanding conflict key to the "lasting and comprehensive peace" for the region. He said that for Jordan a two-state solution is the only way forward.

Pompeo's visit comes after a month of Palestinian protests in Gaza that have turned violent, with Israeli forces killing about 40 Palestinians. The Palestinians accuse Israel of using excessive force, while Israel says it is protecting its borders and only targeting instigators.

When asked about the violence, Pompeo said, "We do believe the Israelis have the right to defend themselves, and we're fully supportive of that."

In addition to agreeing on the need for a U.N.-led resolution to the conflict in Syria, Pompeo said he and Safadi discussed how to best counter what he called Iran's "malign influence and activity in the region."

Earlier in his first overseas trip as secretary of state, Pompeo said during a stop in Israel that U.S. President Donald Trump "has a comprehensive Iran strategy that is designed to counter the full array of threats emanating from Tehran."

He also reiterated that unless the international agreement on Iran's nuclear program is changed to meet Trump's satisfaction, the president intends to withdraw from the deal.

"President Trump's been pretty clear, this deal is very flawed. He's directed the administration to try and fix it and if we can't fix it he's going to withdraw from the deal. It's pretty straightforward," Pompeo said.

Iran agreed in 2015 to limit its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected U.S. calls to alter the deal it reached with Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States. Trump stands alone among the six signatories to the accord in threatening to withdraw from it, and faces a May 12 deadline for deciding whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Iran.

En route from Saudi Arabia to Israel, Pompeo told reporters Sunday that he had briefed Riyadh's leaders on U.S. talks with European officials on efforts to end Iranian missile tests and combat Tehran's military involvement in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Mideast.

Iran rejected those comments Monday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi called Pompeo's statements "baseless and repetitive," and said as long as countries want Iran's help, it will continue to do so.

Source: Voice of America

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